By Daniel Paulling//Contributor | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Brendan Hansen has this “swim fan” thing down now.
He focused heavily on his goals during his competitive swimming career, which paid off with three gold, one silver and two bronze medals total at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. He was still getting the hang of what it meant to be a fan of the sport in 2016.
But he has since learned, spending last February group texting with his friends about the times being swum during the college conference championship season.
“It’s actually way more enjoyable now,” Hansen said. “You start to learn how to be a swim fan after you stop competing. It’s hard to transition out of being a competitive swimmer and just be a fan of what’s going on.”
Hansen’s passion helps him be successful in his role as Director of Team Services with USA Swimming’s Sport Development Team Services department, which he joined last year. His department helps with coach education and provides support for USA Swimming’s 3,500 clubs.
He has redone USA Swimming’s newsletter for coaches, changing it from a weekly list of articles to a monthly communication that informs coaches about what’s happening across the country in USA Swimming. It also allows them to provide feedback about the structure of meets, clinics, camps and other things. He wants coaches to feel their voices are being heard.
“The reason we put the best Olympic team together every year and our club program is as great as it is and growing is because of the diversity and talent that we have in the sport,” Hansen said. “We’re really paying attention to how do we get the right resources and tools to our coaches, how we work with these athletes that are the next up-and-coming.
“Our focus every day right now is on what that [Olympic] team in 2028 is going to look like. We know that’s in LA, that it’s on our home turf.”
Following his career as a competitive swimmer, Hansen started the Austin Swim Club in Texas in 2012. Within just four years, he had a swimmer on the U.S. National Team and had 12 swimmers compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which helped it become a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club after starting from scratch a few years earlier.
Hansen’s success as a coach made him an ideal candidate for his role at USA Swimming.
“The Olympic part was great,” USA Swimming Managing Director of Sport Development Joel Shinofield said. “It certainly gives him an entrée to a lot of different people because of those gold medals. But it’s not something he relies on or we think about as much as his success as a coach.”
But those gold medals – as well as his three other Olympic medals and countless other achievements in the pool – helped him accomplish something special. He’ll be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., next fall. The induction was originally scheduled for this weekend (April 5), but has been moved to Oct. 2-3 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Earlier this month, Hansen was completing biographical information and looking at old pictures to prepare for the induction ceremony. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce about races and experiences and teammates because he’s so busy that he hasn’t really had a chance to.
When he learned of his being inducted, Hansen said he didn’t have much of an emotional reaction because it wasn’t something he pursued during his career. His focus was on winning races or doing a good relay split. But his initial response soon changed.
“The more I researched it, the more I understood what I was getting inducted into, the more I realized how neat of a deal it was and how cool it was to be a part of it,” Hansen said. “Some of these people who have been inducted, the people I’m getting inducted with, I’ve idolized, or they’ve pushed me to a certain level. Being inducted into it is pretty awesome.”
After his induction, Hansen will do his best as a fan of swimming, even with the 2020 Olympic Games and Olympic Team Trials postponed to 2021. After that, he’ll do his part with USA Swimming to help build the U.S. Olympic team in 2024 and 2028 and beyond.
“It means everything, honestly,” Hansen said. “You cannot put a measurement on the amount of passion I have for this sport and what it teaches people. If I can help a kid increase their experience and mold their experience into one that’s positive, I’m absolutely going to be a part of that. No one I have met can match my passion for what I’m doing.”